When Charles and Jess Casben were about to finish high school, their dad (a cocktail hobbyist) told them no RTDs (ready-to-drink) and no goon. They were to drink proper booze. “He sat us down, pulled out his old cocktail books and took us through all these classic cocktails. He said, ‘These are drinks as they should historically appear, and these are the sort of drinks you should be drinking’,” says Charles Casben. It worked.
The siblings have just opened Moyas Juniper Lounge; a gin bar that’s a mashed-up period piece, with worn mid-century lounges and recipes from far earlier. From the street it’s easy to miss – all that marks it are dark curtains and an old gin ad, surreptitiously plastered on the side. Coming in from the roar of Redfern’s Regent Street requires some adjustment.
“We’re trying to do something of a different time,” says Charles, who’s recently come from managing Firedoor. “We didn't want to pick an era. It’s not prohibition or a ’20s bar, but something that's influenced by the 200-year span from when gin appeared on the scene in England, to the American cocktail making its way to London.”
The menu looks like a historical recipe book. Each cocktail has its own page with exact ingredient measurements, historical tales, personal notes from the Casbens and footnotes about each one’s origin. All but one (a simple Americano) of the cocktails are gin based. Many use local distillers such as Poor Tom’s, Archie Rose, Applewood, Four Pillars or Hippocampus. Beers are almost exclusively NSW craft brews, and the wine list is impressively varied. The food menu is the complete opposite; just five options made up of either pickles, cured meats, cheese or a brilliant little “ham and cheese” sandwich with crisp prosciutto, ricotta and pineapple pickles.
If you’re picturing something snooty, don’t. A simple fit-out filled with furniture from the Casben family homestead, and jazz coming through the speakers make it feel welcoming. “It’s lucky the bar concept came off, so we could have somewhere to put all this stuff,” says Casben. You can even sit at the bar the siblings first learnt to mix drinks on, transported from their family farm near Camden.
Moyas Juniper Lounge
101 Regent Street, Redfern
Tue to Sat 4pm–11pm